While it’s hard to lump them into ten entries here are what stood out as some of the most memorable times I’ve had at the movies this year. I couldn’t think of a more diverse group of movies in a single list.

10. MelancholiaLars von Trier’s hauntingly beautiful film about the eve of Earth’s destruction by a mysterious planet as witnessed by a depressed newly wed and her sister was one of the most riveting pieces of cinema of the year. I’ve always thought Kirsten Dunst was an underrated actress, and her Justine is a career-defining role that explores depression. She’s perfectly matched with Charlotte Gainsbourg, and von Trier’s heavy, signature, avant-garde weirdness.

9. We Need To Talk About KevinHere’s a ballsy film that goes into dark places that are rarely talked about, let alone seen in film. Specifically, WNTTAK explores the emotional disconnect between parents and their offspring. Tilda Swinton plays Eva, a mother who tries to deal with the aftermath, and feelings of responsibility, of her disturbed son’s high-school killing spree. Swinton confronts the disturbing material head-on, delivering one of the most gripping performances of the year.

8. HugoHugo is a movie made for devoted cinema lovers. Martin Scorsese’s nostalgic family film fills every frame with gorgeous images of the golden age of silent cinema. Scorsese knows how what a powerful sense of escapism movies can be, and this feels like one of the most personal films he has made in years.

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2These characters have been in our lives for ten years, and it’s a worthy conclusion to all of the films. J.K Rowling definitely lucked out with how well this series turned out on screen. Whether the film is the best in the series is still up for debate, but there is no question that it was the one that delivers the most to its audience.

6. Martha Marcy May MarleneElizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene gives one of the most striking debut performances of the year in this indie gem. Olsen stars as a young woman who goes to live with her estranged sister (Sarah Paulson), and brother-in-law (Hugh Dancy), after running away from an abusive cult. Olsen’s strengths lie in her subtlety and how natural of an actress she is. The last close up of her in the film is one of my favorite scenes of the year. I can’t wait to see more of her.

5. ShameShame is a film about loneliness and how sex is used as an outlet for it. Michael Fassbender is my pick for best actor of the year. His portrayal of an emotionally numb sex addict is one of the most affecting performances of year.

4. BridesmaidsBridesmaids showcases some of the most talented comedic actresses working today. Have there ever been characters quite like these women in a mainstream comedy? The brilliance of the screenplay, and performances, is how well developed all these women are. These are all characters that I felt connected to and felt like I knew.

3. BeginnersMike Mills’ semi-autobiographical film Beginners works on so many levels. It’s a moving story of father and son, an effective love story, and is about how it’s never too late to find happiness. Christopher Plummer will no doubt get an Oscar nomination, if not win, for his brilliant performance as a closeted gay man who comes out to his son (Ewan McGregor) after the death of his wife. The film is about living life to its fullest, and never denying yourself love.

2. Tree of LifeTerrence Malick is one of the most important visionaries working today. His transcendent style of filmmaking is a signature all his own, and it is hard to pin point what exactly makes it so majestic. Every film Malick makes is just as beautiful and poetic as the next. Tree of Life is a film purely for Malick devotees. Just like all great art it’s a film that is likely to be off putting to many, and there isn’t a right or wrong way to read it.

1. WeekendThis under the radar film directed by Andrew Haigh from the U.K is one the best films about gay men ever made, although maybe that they are gay in the grand scheme of things is irrelevant since anyone can relate to them. After a house party with his friends Russell (Tom Cullen) goes to a gay bar and takes home Glen (Chris New) for what at first seems to be a one-night stand. Waking up next to each the next morning they find more of an intense connection between them from what they first expected

The film shatters stereotypes of gay men in cinema, and portrays average blokes who don’t fit into the mold of what is expected of homosexual men in pop culture. The film’s strength is that it is so matter of fact with its two characters and that the screenplay and performances by Cullen and New are so effortless. It will no doubt bring to mind similar films of dialogue driven romances like Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset, and Before Sunrise. This is my favorite film of 2011.

Since it’s so hard to squeeze my other favorites of 2011 into these ten slots, here are some other films worth checking out: Young Adult, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Heartbeats, The Help, Paul, 50/50, The Descendents, and Arthur Christmas.